The Persistence of Sexism in the Workplace

Despite the progression of social standards for women’s equality, gender discrimination is still a crucial problem that affects all women in the workplace. It impacts a myriad of factors such as the gender pay gap, as well as the number of promotions women receive in comparison to men. A study done by the AAUW (American Association of University Women) substantiated that, as of 2021, a woman makes 82 cents to every dollar a man makes. What seems to be an insignificant difference amounts to a whopping $10,157 gap per year, according to the National Partnership for Women & Families. Such differences in the workplace can discourage women from pursuing majors that equate to higher wages or even pursuing desired careers. As a result, a societal gap that transcends the quantitative gap of wages persists. 

Studies show that gender discrinimation not only influences the gender pay back, but disproportionately affects women of color in comparison to their white counterparts and can have negative effects on women’s mental health.  

According to PewResearch, about four-in-ten working women say that they’ve experienced gender discrimination in the workplace. Furthermore, women with a postgraduate degree were more likely to report gender discrimination compared to those with only a bachelor’s degree (29 percent to eighteen percent). Thirty percent of women with family incomes of $100,000 or higher say they’ve earned less than a man who was doing the same job yet only 21 percent of women with lower incomes report the same. Therefore, the higher a woman’s position , the more likely gender discrimination is prominent in her professional life. 

Gender discrimination not only affects the gender pay gap, but women’s chances of getting promotions in comparison to their male counterparts. For example, out of all the Fortune 500 companies, 500 of the largest United States corporations by total revenue, only 37 out the 500 aforementioned companies are run by women. And out of those, three of the 37 are women of color. Even smaller businesses have their fair share of promotion gaps between genders.  Helen Ulozas, a production coordinator in the production/manufacturing field, said that “…women are, by far, in more administrative roles than I see men. Men still dominate the top positions in all of the companies I have worked for.” According to Payscale, 4 percent of white women compared to 6 percent of white men are in executive positions. Furthermore, reflecting the lack of women of color in the Fortune 500 companies, only 2 percent of Asian women, 3 percent of Hispanic/Latin women, 3 percent of Black women, and 0 percent of Pacific Islander women are in executive positions. These disproportionate rates also apply to manager, supervisor and director positions. To make matters worse, according to CNBC, men have been promoted three times more than women during the pandemic. As a result, gender discrimination not only affects the pay gap as well but hinders women’s ability to acquire promotions as well. 

In addition to women currently employed in the workforce, students at Edison High School have their own opinions on the gender gap. While some students expressed feelings of concern about the persistence of this gender, others expressed optimism about the potential progress in the future.

“Currently about 75 percent of the psych field is dominated by women… I think less women will feel inclined to work in psychology, as the field has been showing signs of reverting [to being male-dominated]. The pay gap definitely intimidates me,” Julia Webb ’22 said. Women are less likely to join a specific professional field if it is more male-dominated, as gender discrimination would be more prevalent as a result. This fear of gender discrimination in a specific profession will also directly lead to gender discrimination being more occurrent in said field as fewer women will join the combat against gender discrimination.

On the other hand, some students hold greater hope for the future.

“The pay gap will change by the time that our class will enter the workforce. Generation Z is known to be vocal about their opinions on social issues… I am confident that with our generation’s vocalness, the gender gap can be bridged… they don’t intimidate me,” said Katelyn Robinson ’22, a student interested in pursuing fashion. In contrast to Webb’s fear, Robinson is more so confident in her generation’s ability to close the pay gap. However, her hope may be in vain as Hofstra University warns that the gender pay gap will not be closed until 2059, if the current rates continue. 

The information provided above can be detrimental to women as gender discrimination can cause low self-esteem, isolation from coworkers, mental health issues, workplace conflict, pregnancy complications, among others. Understanding the severity of this issue, it is crucial to consider solutions to end gender discrimination and bridge not only the pay and promotion gap, but the intimidation caused by said gap. While most articles will suggest increasing wages for female employees or having groups focused on promoting women, which would be the most efficient way to combat gender discrimination, we can work to bridge this gap on a smaller scale in our own Edison High School community. 

Potential Ways to Work Towards Reducing Gender Discrimination in EHS: 

Bring More Awareness to Gender Discrimination and the Resulting Pay and Promotion Gap

Some students are not fully educated on gender discrimination and how it can impact them on a daily basis. Bringing direct awareness to the issue through clubs or lessons in schools can allow students to be more informed about this reality when entering the workforce or pursuing higher education. Bringing more mindfulness to this issue can allow people to work towards bridging this gap in the future.

Encourage Women to Pursue Careers in Diversity-Lacking Fields

This goal can be achieved through clubs or other programs at school. For example, the Edison High School club, WiSTEM FOCUS, works to increase women’s involvement in the STEM field, a field in which women only earn about 80 percent of what men earn according to a study done by the PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America). Having clubs like these marks a positive move in the direction of increasing the confidence and empowerment of young women, which can lead more of them to choose fields and majors that are currently dominated by men. 

The gender discrimination women face in the workplace is a serious issue that should not only be treated seriously by the government but the EHS community as well to build a better future for women in the workplace.